Schneider Electric Helps the Military Build Resilient and Sustainable Facilities through Microgrids

Oct. 13, 2023
Curt “Kibbles” Ebitz, strategic account executive at Schneider Electric discusses how Schneider Electric helps the military build resilient and sustainable facilities to help address environmental impacts of climate change.
America's military leadership faces a stark reality: Climate change is a direct threat to the security of our homeland. The domestic military installations responsible for safeguarding our nation face a 21st-century threat that impacts our energy infrastructure. The mounting menace of climate change, evident through rising sea levels and extreme weather events, poses a serious risk to our society as a whole, and all 50 states have at least one military base. With upwards of 450 bases domestically, there is no geography that will go unscathed from climate-related events.

To address these challenges, the military has been taking steps to mitigate its environmental impact and adapt to changing conditions. These efforts encompass investments in resilient infrastructure, renewable energy sources and strategies for managing climate-related risks. Additionally, there is a growing recognition of the importance of international cooperation in addressing the global challenge of climate change. 

Overall, these threats underscore the need for a holistic approach to national security – one that takes into account not only traditional military threats but also environmental and cyberthreats. Adaptation, resilience and cooperation are key components in addressing these 21st-century security concerns.

Recognizing the gravity of these challenges, fortifying the homefront is now a top priority, which is why the Department of Defense (DOD) has prioritized a solution that helps to solve these growing threats: renewable energy microgrids. Schneider Electric is at the forefront of this mission, developing microgrid solutions that enhance energy resilience through on-site production and cybersecurity while also promoting sustainability through renewable sources.

Recent events have underscored the urgency of this mission. Most notably, the May 2021 ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which transports 45% of all fuel to the East Coast, laid bare the vulnerabilities of our nation’s energy infrastructure to cyberattacks. There’s also growing concern that America’s adversaries are increasingly weaponizing our dependence on fossil fuels

It’s now imperative that military bases reduce their dependence on offsite power sources. In the event of a power failure, U.S. defenses would be incapacitated, leaving our forces unable to mobilize for combat. Some U.S. bases still rely on trucking in fuel, a practice that not only drains resources but also makes them easy targets for adversaries seeking to undermine operations. Deploying renewable energy significantly lowers risks in the field of operations, offering a more secure and reliable energy source for all missions. 

To spur the transition to resilient energy, DOD policy now mandates 14 days of self-sufficient energy at all bases. The Army, in particular, has set an ambitious goal to build a microgrid at every base around the world by 2035. The Navy has also pledged to install cyber/secure microgrids or comparable resilience technology to support all critical missions. These efforts are well underway, as Schneider Electric has already delivered flagship projects that are serving as models for U.S. installations both at home and abroad. 

Net-zero energy: Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia

MCLB Albany stands as the first net-zero base, showcasing the transformative power of microgrids. Schneider Electric’s microgrid solution has successfully reduced energy consumption while meeting the base’s energy demand with 100% renewable resources. This system optimizes energy efficiency and resiliency, offering remote systems monitoring, visualization and reporting of energy loads. Furthermore, it provides flexibility in generation control to achieve net-zero energy consumption. MCLB Albany’s example demonstrates that with this right technology, we can secure our bases and promote sustainability simultaneously. 

Energy resilience initiatives: Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California 

Home to 15,000 marines, sailors and their families, MCAS Miramar is one of the few military bases located within a large city. This unique position made it acutely vulnerable to power outages. In 2011, MCAS Miramar leaders recognized the fragility of their power outage and began exploring renewable energy solutions. In 2020, during rolling blackouts, the microgrid at Miramar kept over 100 mission-critical facilities online, utilizing 75% renewable energy. Additionally, it played a pivotal role in ensuring that 2,000 nearby homes had access to power. MCAS Miramar exemplifies the resiliency and community benefits microgrids offer, even in densely populated areas. 

Microgrid solutions, such as those offered by Schneider Electric, have emerged as a game changer in strengthening our military bases against energy disruptions while advancing their commitment to sustainability. Microgrids not only reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, making our military installations less susceptible to attacks on our energy infrastructure, but they also provide a reliable and secure energy source for our critical operations. Climate change is an existential threat that impacts our homeland and military bases, and we must adapt to these challenges. As we look ahead to an uncertain future, it is imperative that we invest in technologies that protect our nation and preserve our planet.

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